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Faculty Spotlight: Frances Gelwick

- Released on Mar 20, 2010

Dr. Frances Gelwick, an Associate Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science at Texas A&M, has been conducting research and consulting on aquatic ecosystems, and fisheries management in the Mexican states of Durango, Nuevo Leon, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán for the past ten years. Her work in Mexico began when she attended the Faculty Abroad Seminar in 2000 and met with counterpart, Dr. Luis Zambrano with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Together with Dr. Thom DeWitt (WFSC) they applied for a CONACYT seed grant and were awarded US $25,000.00 to observe wetland and karst sink-hole (cenote) habitats in the Yucátan peninsula. Since then, Dr. Gelwick’s work has continued in Mexico. Currently she is a co-PI in a Texas A&M and CONACYT project in Monterrey, at the Universidad Autónoma en Nuevo Leon (UANL), with Dr. Juan Vidales (School of Agronomy) and Dr. Karim Acun-Askar (Medical School) to study the fisheries, water quality, and bacterial fauna on fishes in La Juventud Reservoir, Marin NL. This reservoir and its recreational park are managed by faculty and students at the School of Agronomy. Dr. Gelwick and Dr. Rich Woodward (TAMU, Agricultural Economics) and their colleagues in Mexican institutions of rural development (INIFAP, Durango) and local universities (in Durango and Gomez Palacio), along with students and fishermen are exploring conservation of fish species and communities, issues of recreational and commercial fishing regulations, essential fish habitat, and biological indicators of ecosystem health and integrity in the small villages of El Palmeto, Las Delicias, and La Victoria that surround Lazarus Cardenas Reservoir on the Rio Nazas. This project aims to provide options to stakeholders to address problems of small scale commercial fisheries, newly emerging tournament fishing interests, and promote sustainable use of reservoirs and ponds in Durango (using the river-reservoir system as a model), develop an integrated co management plan for inland fisheries, and develop indicators of aquatic resource integrity and sustainability. This project impacts not only local farmers and fisherman, but students as well. Ten students in Mexico and four students at Texas A&M have been employed on these projects, and six have used their data for their undergraduate and graduate research theses and dissertations. As this article shows Dr. Gelwick is one of Texas A&M’s faculty leaders in international engagement.